Why Fifty Shades Freed's Dakota Johnson Decided To Play Anastasia Steele

anastasia steele

Fifty Shades Freed and the two movies that predate it are mostly known for the steamy romance scenes between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. The relationship itself is also a focal point, and it's not without issues, as Mr. Grey can be a controlling partner and Anastasia Steele is a little feistier than the women he is used to being with. However, if you've ever wondered why Dakota Johnson signed on to play the famous character on the big screen, it's Ana's personality and the compelling work it gave the actress that really drew her to the role.

Initially, one of the biggest draws to me was Anastasia's emotional, intellectual and sexual arc over the course of three films. She grows into a fierce young woman who discovers that perhaps her sexual preferences are more similar to Christian Grey's than what she initially expected.

Anastasia Steele is a character who has always pretty well known exactly who she is throughout the movies and E.L. James' book series. However, being with Christian Grey and his emotional personality is quite a bit of a challenge, and playing the partner of that character on the big screen was also challenging. Early on in the Fifty Shades Freed book, for instance, Christian Grey freaks out when Ana decides to take a jet ski into town without telling him. He's worried about her safety since she doesn't really know how to drive it, so his control freak behavior isn't totally unwarranted in this situation, but it's an example of Ana having to see herself as part of a couple and figure out exactly how she fits into that narrative, rather than just let Christian boss her around all the time. Dakota Johnson feels the gig is a meatier role than just having sex in the Red Room, and the actress told News.com.au that she relished the challenge.

Of course, we don't know if the particular scene in question will make the movie, but there are countless examples in the Fifty Shades movies that show Ana's growth and her willingness to push back about her likes and dislikes, and not only in the bedroom. In particular, we know from the trailers that the third movie is going to navigate a wedding and Ana's pregnancy, not to mention will feature a thriller aspect thanks to antics from Jack Hyde. That's a lot of stuff for one character to be dealing with, and Dakota Johnson wants to remind people that she's not Ana Steele. She said:

This is not what's going on [with me] and hopefully at the end of the day people will remember that this is a character who is completely separate from me and my life.

Dakota Johnson had been in a few things before Universal picked her for the lead in Fifty Shades of Grey. The actress had popped up in movies like The Social Network and The Five-Year Engagement, and even starred in the short-lived Ben and Kate, but she wasn't a household name, yet. So, it's no real surprise that the big role that people associate Johnson with is the Fifty Shades franchise character. In fact her co-star, Jamie Dornan, even recently revealed that people will call him "Mr. Grey" in public, thereby weirding his kids out. Regardless, she's not only an actress but a real person, and as her role in the Fifty Shades franchise is coming to an end with Fifty Shades Freed, she'll hopefully be able to move on to more rewarding projects. And maybe next time, it won't involve any sex scenes.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.